Office 2013 was released on TechNet this afternoon…
First, let me apologize for getting everyone's hopes up that Outlook 2013 would have a less white, less eye strain interface in RTM. Microsoft gave us more gray, but it just makes Outlook more gray, not necessarily easier on the eyes.
We now have 3 shades of gray to choose from but 14 background decorations. (Yes, 14 designs for the title bar!)
The new "colors" are White, Light Gray, and Dark Gray. The dark gray navigation pane and similarly colored folder names is not an improvement. The light gray theme isn't bad; it's a little easier to read and the status bar is blue, so it has a little more color than the dark gray. It's not so white but the contrast in the folder navigation pane is less than optimal for tired eyes.
Microsoft removed the ability to change the font used for the folder names, so we're stuck with the colors and fonts, and no option to increase the font size to make the names easier to read.
I know a lot of people wanted a black interface; the dark gray isn't even close. Some people hoped we'd get the old blue and green choices back. I knew the chances of that were between slim and none, but thought we might get a black theme.
The color and background options can be set or changed in File, Office Account.
I like the light gray ribbon but I'll stick with the white theme because the folder names are easiest to read. (The white in the Preview build never really bothered me, but I keep the monitor brightness down, especially on my laptop.)
Published October 24, 2012. Last updated on April 9, 2013.